Review: “Titanborn,” Rhett C. Bruno

Pros: It’s an interesting setting
Cons: Enemies fairly faceless; Malcolm can get annoying at times
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Rhett C. Bruno’s Titanborn picks up in 2334, three hundred years after a meteorite ‘crippled’ the earth. Some people stayed to work through it; others left the planet. In particular, the Ringers have lived in a low-gravity, sunless environment, on their own, for enough generations that they look significantly different: they’re tall, pale, and gangly. Worst of all, they’ve lost their immunity to most of earth’s bacteria and viruses. They go everywhere wearing masks, and they’re stuffed into quarantine wards the moment they come down sick. Earthers get better treatment, better jobs, better resources. So the Children of Titan, or Titanborn, are ready to start a bloody revolution in order to change things. Action in space is run by several mega-corporations, and they send Collectors to deal with situations their own guards can’t handle. Malcolm Graves is a collector for the Pervenio corporation, and they’ve saddled him with an unusual partner. Zhaff is young, seemingly emotionless, and uncannily quick. To Malcolm’s surprise, he finds they can work well together. Is the combination of Malcolm’s experience and intuition with Zhaff’s vast knowledge and keen training going to be enough to stop the terrorists?

 

The setting reminds me a bit of the series “The Expanse”: off-world people physically altered by generations in space, check. Those people are on the bottom of the heap, check. They’re more than happy to kill an Earther when possible, check. There’s a vaguely noir feel, check (although that’s stronger in the TV show than in this book). If you like that series, you might find a similar enjoyment from Bruno’s book.

Malcolm is a decent character, but definitely gets annoying at times. (He likes to gloat.) He wasn’t my favorite point-of-view character, but he wasn’t too bad either. Zhaff is a little too robotic, particularly at first, but he does improve. The enemies are largely faceless, and some of the characters behave a little… oddly. Characterization is not this book’s strongest suit.

There are some interesting surprises going on. One seemed a tad too convenient and far-fetched. Some of them were good surprises, however. The plot is interesting, and the pacing is good. There isn’t a lot to make Titanborn stand out from other books in the genre, but it’s a decent entry into the field.

 

Book provided free by publisher for review
Expected publication date: June 21, 2016

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